Given that scenario I'd take Barron, a WR or consider trading down for more picks. Barron is good, but he struggles in coverage and is more of a strong safety. He'd still play well in Zimmer's scheme.
I think it's a combination of a few things. The Bengals tend to treat their players right, so the length of the deal suggest Nelson was looking for an end of career type deal, which the Bengals were happy to give him.
It also has to do with the overall safety position in the NFL. Safeties don't hit free agency, that's why I think it was so questionable to let him test it. We've never seen top safeties like Ed Reed hit the market, ever. The draft isn't any better. For the next few years it makes sense to ensure Nelson isn't going anywhere. If they tagged him he could walk next year for massive money the Bengals can't match because they have to worry about re-signing and extending younger, more important players.
Also, I think the team really sees something in him. Let's be honest, before playing under Mike Zimmer Nelson was awful. He has a breakout year last year, so the thought in the front office may be he will only continue to improve with more time in the system.
There's also the fact that he's a big name and actually wanted to come back to Cincy - that never happens. So while I agree they probably should have tagged him, I see why they didn't. This could end up coming back to haunt the front office, but when you have this much cap space it's a risk worth taking I suppose.
Thanks for becoming a fan Patrick!
Saw a couple comments of yours on the Bengals and NFL draft.... good stuff, completely agree!
patrick, LOL at you for criticizing Miller when you in fact had it wrong about the draft order with the seahawks, idiot!
patrick, you moron